ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As Masahiro Tanaka was throwing a bunch of filthy splitters and making it look easy going all nine Tuesday night in a Yankees shutout win over the Tampa Bay Rays, word was spreading in the visiting dugout at Tropicana Field that GM Brian Cashman was crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s to a big trade.
Before midnight, two-time All-Star closer Zach Britton was property of the Yankees, who dealt three minor-league pitchers to the Baltimore Orioles to add another huge weapon to a bullpen that already had been stockpiling them.
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild, a soft talker who looks calm whether his pitcher is throwing a gem or stinking it up, was so fired up that he decided to delay hitting the sack to get as much rest as possible for Wednesday’s 12:10 p.m., series finale against the Rays.
Rothschild was so excited about this trade that he stayed up to watch some video of Britton.
He loved what he saw from Britton, who worked eight shutout innings over his last eight outings with the Orioles after initially going through some struggles following a June return from offseason Achilles surgery.
“Britton only had five or six innings in rehab, so coming back he was still probably getting everything together,” Rothschild said Wednesday before the Yankees’ 3-2 loss to the Rays. “It looks like now he has. He’s had a good July.”
Britton is mostly a two-pitch pitcher, but his slider is effective and his sinker has been and still may be the best in the game.
“It’s mostly sinkers and I don’t think it’s any secret,” Rothschild said.
Rothschild feels fortunate to be in charge of an eight-man Yankees bullpen that might have been the deepest of anyone’s in any year even before this trade. Now it’s even better with Britton joining a group that includes Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder and Adam Warren. Long reliever A.J. Cole has been great since joining the Yankees in late April, too.
“We purposely stayed away from some of the overwork usage early in the season, so later on you can put more on guys, but now Britton will give us an opportunity to make sure we can spread it out a little bit,” Rothschild said. “Any time you add an arm like that, you’re grateful for it. We just have to make sure we use these guys the best that we can and that they get rest, but they get work and they’re all ready to go.”
Rothschild’s new weapon will be in uniform and available for work starting Thursday, as Britton was told by the Yankees not to bother trying to get Tampa Bay from Baltimore for Wednesday’s early game following his night game Tuesday at Oriole Park.
“This is exciting,” Rothschild said. “It’s nice to add this piece just for everyone here to see people in the front office are getting after it and doing everything they can.”
“The one thing I know after being here seven plus years is the front office is going to work to improve the team any way they can,” Rothschild said. “If it doesn’t work out, they won’t. But I know they’re working at it trying to get us in the best situation they can. If it’s Britton and that’s it, then so be it.”Britton, excitedly, Larry, Rothschild, traded, Yankees, Zach